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In His Right Mind
by Philip R. Sullivan
About this Book
In His Right Mind tells the story of a man who is thrust into an adventure he never would have chosen, with a result he never could have imaginedthe sort of story that is most often publicized in the case of a woman who is being threatened by a deranged lover; the sort of situation where protective-restraining orders are of no avail. In addition to the growing maelstrom of external events, this story focuses forcefully on the inner responses of its sensitively introspective protaganist, Kevin Kiley.
And as George Bernard Shaw once portrayed in his drama, The Devil's Disciple, when pushed into crisis far beyond that found in daily life, we never know what aspect of ourselves will emerge . . . until such a dire crisis actually happens to us.
About the Author
In His Right Mind is Philip R. Sullivan's sixth novel. In addition to his private practice, Doctor Sullivan has taught clinical psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School for many years. He lives in a countrified Massachusetts setting where he has also raised African sheep.
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Philip R. Sullivan's novel, In His Right Mind, relates the story of Kevin Kiley, a psychiatrist who has recently performed a disability evaluation on Joe Polito, an air-traffic controller who has been on paid disability status for four years. Dr. Kiley judges that Mr. Polito continues to be disabled by his Bipolar Disorder, complicated by uncontrolled alcoholism. Butand here's the sticklerthat neither condition has been caused by, or permanently aggravated by, his work. The result: Mr. Polito has lost his Federal equivalent to Workers' Compensation, and hence the monthly checks by which he had been continuing to support himself and his family. This in turn has evoked in him an implacable ire toward the psychiatrist who rendered the medical report.
There ensues an escalating series of harassments, which gradually grade from emotionally distressing to life-threatening (e.g. while driving home one night, Kevin is intentionally run off the road by a truck, suffering only minor injuries from running into a treealthough these injuries might well have been fatal, had his car collided with a tree earlier in its off-road deceleration). During the period of these escalating harassments, Kevin attempts to obtain legal protection from his assailant by various meansincluding taking Joe Polito to court on criminal chargesall to no avail (partly due to the cleverness of Joe's court appointed defense-attorney, and partly to the lack of definitive evidence that Joe is the culprit).
After a sadistic attack on the beloved sheep that Kevin cares for at the country "homestead" where he lives, Kevin becomes distraught, finally concluding that society will not or cannot protect him adequately, and that only he can protect himself. As he puts it, by way of an old saw: "If it is to be, it's up to me."
On this background, the story tells how Kevinwithin his own mind, and in his associated behaviorthen comes to deal with Joe Polito and with society's system of criminal justice. During this unveiling process, readers are, in effect, called upon to become members of an imaginary jury, rendering judgment on the subsequent issue of justice.
Certain novels, like In His Right Mind, tend to be referred to as "allegorical." Yet all novels are allegorical, at least in the sense that a story can always be seen as suggesting things that go beyond the story itself, or that are more abstract and deeper than the story in which they are embedded. The reason is that this is the way our human brains work, leading us along a disparate series of paths by way of spontaneous associations.
But some novels are written in a way that positively encourages allegorical thinking at multiple levels. The story of Kevin Kiley's psychological and behavioral responses to a horrendous crisis indeed favors such allegorical thinking.
Kevin's problem vividly illustrates the tension between our individual freedoms, which honor "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," balanced against the duty of citizens to obey laws considered crucial for our society's successful continuance. But the issue broadens as one's ongoing reflections extend to additional conflicts between the "self" and one's society.
And beneath this breadth of problems lies a core-issuealmost always set aside in our daily livesof what we even mean by the "self." We know that the thing nearest and dearest to each of us is our own self, and that this self's self-interest can be at odds with the wider interests of the society in which we live. Further, that while our "selves" seem indelibly attached to our bodies, once the body expires, the "self" within that body seems to disappear forever . . . at least from the view of all the other selves. Does the self's separateness simply subside thenbecome ONE with the ALL againour delimiting factors having been definitively breached? Or, in compliance with the historical beliefs of so many civilizations, does this "self" miraculously persist in recyclable or heavenly/hellish form?
In His Right Mind was published by Foremost Press. It can be ordered through local bookstores and at ForemostPress.com, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.
232 pp, $13.97